Obama on Teacher Recruitment and Retention (page 2)

Obama on Teacher Recruitment and Retention

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based on 10 ratings
January 12, 2009
Updated on May 12, 2010

Reward Teachers Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. If teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Rewarding teachers is one of the more controversial points of Obama’s Pre-K-12 plan, particularly the issue of merit pay, which Obama proposed during the campaign. The National Education Association (NEA) has long been opposed to merit pay, financial reward for teachers based on merit, which can include a number of criteria, including improved test scores. Many educators and policymakers have expressed concern that if teachers are rewarded for better test scores, they will be forced to teach to the test—similar to the debate over No Child Left Behind.

The NEA chose to endorse Obama despite their opposition to merit pay; however, Obama made it clear that he would continue to support merit pay for teachers.

In a speech to the NEA last July, Obama said, “Now I know this wasn’t necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then and I’m saying it again now because it’s what I believe and I will always be an honest partner to you in the White House.”

“I have mixed feelings about merit pay,” says Cindy Reed, EdD, Professor of Educational Foundations, Leadership & Technology at Auburn University. “I think merit pay can be an incentive to encourage taking on additional responsibilities to furthering one’s professional growth, but I think there’s a danger in terms of what criteria are used to determine who gets merit pay and for what reasons.” Reed says there needs to be an open series of conversation about what would constitute meritorious teaching and how one would assess that.

Reed, who serves as Director of the Truman Pierce Institute, a research and outreach unit in Auburn University’s College of Education, believes rewarding teachers needs to go beyond financial rewards. “We need to find ways to make sure teachers are receiving intrinsic and extrinsic recognition,” Reed says. Reed emphasizes the need to recognize teacher leaders within the school system and for authentic opportunities for teachers to become involved in the decision making about what happens in the schools and communities. At the same time, Reed says, “In order to make more money, a teacher shouldn’t have to leave the school and become an administrator.”

Parents and educators across the country are looking to Obama to make some important changes to the public education system. “I think there is a real opportunity here for the Obama administration to provide some sense of direction at the national level about the role and purpose of public school in the United States,” Dempsey says. “We need an articulate leader who can say, ‘This is where we’re going and this is how we’re going to get there.’ It’s a matter or being able to articulate what that picture looks.”

What are Obama's other plans for education? Check out Obama on College Funding, Obama on Early Childhood Education, Obama on NCLB, Obama on School Choice, and Obama on Math, Science, and Tech Education.

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